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2013 U.S. Open: Top 5 Traditions at Merion Golf Club

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2013 U.S. Open: Famed Traditions at Merion Golf Club

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Merion Golf Club, the host of this year’s U.S Open, has been around for a while, having been open since 1914. As you can imagine, a golf course that has been around for almost a century is steeped in tradition. Many of the traditions at Merion are focused on the history of the course and how the game is played as opposed to the ceremonial traditions that you find at many other venues.

The course made its way into the national consciousness when it hosted the 1916 U.S. Amateur. That just so happens to be the first time that nation got a peek at then 14-year old golfer Bobby Jones. This historic venue has hosted nine amateur championships and three international team competitions. This will mark the fifth time the U.S. Open is played in the Philadelphia suburb, as well. The last time the U.S. Open made it here was in 1981, when David Graham took home the title.

While there isn’t much recent history here – the 2009 Walker Cup is the most recent event hosted by Merion – the nostalgia seems to seep up from the ground. "It's an architectural treasure," USGA executive director Mike Davis said. "From a golf standpoint, I think you could easily say it's a landmark. And there are so many wonderful moments in time." Ben Hogan’s famed 1-iron in 1950 that propelled him to victory just over a year after a terrible car crash is one such moment in time. Bobby Jones completed his grand slam here in 1930 by winning the U.S. Amateur, which also happened to be his last international competition.

The golf is sure to be spectacular this week, and hopefully we can witness something that is added to the history and lure of this iconic course.

Carl Conrad is the Senior Golf Writer for Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.

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#5 No Golf Carts Allowed

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports
Golf carts are not permitted to be used at Merion except by those individuals with a medical necessity. This is both an attempt to preserve the condition of the course as well as its history. Merion is also exceedingly proud of its caddy program, which is even more important because of the ban on carts.
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#4 No Yardage Markers

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re looking for the 150 yard marker on this course, you might as well give up. There are no yardage markers allowed on the track. Good thing for those caddies.

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#3 The Bobby Jones Plaque

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

A marker at the 11th hole reads, "On September 27, 1930, And on this hole, Robert Tyre Jones Jr., completed his 'Grand Slam' by winning the U.S. Amateur Championship." Jones defeated Eugene Homas eight and seven to secure the Grand Slam title.

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#2 Mulligans Not Permitted on 1st Tee

Eileen Blass-USA TODAY Sports

This is obviously a tradition for members and doesn’t come in to play in a major championship, but it’s an interesting one, nonetheless. Merion preaches quick play for its members and this is just one example of that.

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#1 "Standards" Instead of Flags

via Ian Poulter Twitter (@IanJamesPoulter)

You won’t be able to judge the wind based on the how the flags are blowing at the hole. That’s because there aren’t any flags. Instead, wicker baskets decorate the tops of the flagsticks on every hole. The reason and origin of these “standards” is shrouded in mystery.

The explanation that follows is from the Merion Golf Club website, “The wicker baskets' origin is a mystery to this day. There was a great deal written in 1912, and for three years thereafter, locally and nationally about this new course in Philadelphia. However, there was no mention of the soon-to-be famous wicker baskets. It could be assumed they were not there. By the summer of 1915, William Flynn, Merion's Superintendent, received patent approval for his wicker basket design. Merion had baskets that fall and from then-to-today. It could be assumed, due to lack of written proof, that Flynn convinced Wilson to use the baskets, and Merion received its "basket notoriety" the next year during the 1916 U.S. Amateur.”